How long do dental crowns last?

Generally, the lifespan of dental crowns ranges from 5 to 15 years, but this can extend up to 25-30 years with proper care and maintenance. The durability of a dental crown depends on various factors, including the material used, the quality of dental care, and individual oral habits.

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Which dental crowns last the longest?

When considering dental crowns one of the first questions many patients have is about the longevity of different materials. Materials like porcelain, ceramic, zirconia, and composite resin each offer unique benefits and lifespans. For instance, zirconia crowns are renowned for their strength and durability, often lasting longer than their porcelain and ceramic counterparts. 

Understanding the properties of each material can help in making an informed decision about which type of crown is best suited to the individual needs and lifestyle of the patient.

Comparing longevity of different dental crown types

The durability of dental crowns varies significantly based on the material from which they are made. Porcelain and ceramic crowns typically last between 5 to 15 years, balancing aesthetics and durability. Understanding these differences is crucial in selecting the right type of crown to meet individual needs and expectations.

How long do porcelain crowns last?

Porcelain crowns are popular for their aesthetic appeal, closely resembling natural teeth. However, their lifespan typically ranges from 5 to 15 years. Factors such as the crown's location in the mouth, the patient's oral hygiene, and chewing habits can influence its durability. Regular check-ups and good oral hygiene are essential to extend the life of a porcelain crown.

How long do ceramic crowns last?

Ceramic crowns known for their compatibility with the human body and aesthetic quality, also have a lifespan similar to porcelain crowns. They are particularly suitable for people with metal allergies. The longevity of ceramic crowns can be maximized through proper dental care, avoiding hard foods, and wearing a nightguard if one grinds their teeth.

How long do zirconia crowns last?

Zirconia crowns stand out for their exceptional strength and longevity, often lasting more than 15 years. They combine aesthetic appeal with the durability of metal crowns, making them an excellent choice for both front and back teeth. The key to their longevity lies in their resistance to cracking and chipping, coupled with good oral hygiene practices.

How long do composite resin crowns last?

Composite resin crowns are the least durable, typically lasting 5 to 7 years. They are more prone to wear and tear compared to other materials. However, they are easier to repair and less expensive, making them a viable option for temporary or short-term solutions. Regular dental check-ups and avoiding hard and sticky foods can help extend their lifespan.

How to look after your dental crowns

Maintaining your dental crowns is pivotal for extending their lifespan and ensuring your oral health remains optimal. 

  • Regular brushing and flossing are fundamental, as they prevent plaque buildup around the crown, which can lead to decay and gum disease. 

  • It's also essential to visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings to ensure the crown and surrounding teeth are in good condition. 

  • Additionally, avoiding hard and sticky foods can prevent damage to the crown, and wearing a night guard if you grind your teeth can protect against wear and tear.

Factors that can reduce longevity of dental crowns

Several factors can contribute to the premature failure of dental crowns, necessitating their early replacement.

  • Poor oral hygiene. The cornerstone of dental crown maintenance is diligent oral hygiene. When regular brushing and flossing are neglected, plaque and tartar accumulate not just on the natural teeth but also around the crown's base. This accumulation can lead to gum disease, characterized by inflammation, bleeding, and eventual recession of the gums, exposing the crown's edges and the root of the tooth. Regular dental cleanings and good home care are essential to prevent these issues and preserve the integrity of dental crowns.

  • Material of the crown. The longevity of a dental crown is heavily influenced by the material it's made from. Metals such as gold and platinum, along with zirconia, are known for their durability and resistance to wear, making them ideal for crowns subjected to heavy biting forces, such as those on molars. Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) offers a balance between strength and aesthetics, though it can sometimes chip, revealing the metal underneath. Pure porcelain and composite resin, while excellent in mimicking the appearance of natural teeth, are more susceptible to wear and tear, including chipping, cracking, and staining over time. 

  • Dental habits. Personal habits play a significant role in the lifespan of a dental crown. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, adds excessive force to crowns, potentially leading to fractures or chips, especially in materials like porcelain and composite resin. Similarly, habits such as chewing ice, biting fingernails, or using teeth to open packages apply undue stress to crowns, risking damage. Wearing a custom-made night guard can mitigate the effects of grinding, and being mindful of harmful oral habits can prevent unnecessary damage to crowns.

  • Improper fit of dental crown. An improperly fitted crown can create a series of problems, starting with discomfort and sensitivity to temperature and pressure. Poorly aligned crowns can affect the bite, leading to issues with chewing and, in some cases, temporomandibular joint disorders. Over time, an ill-fitting crown may become loose and detach from the tooth, requiring urgent dental intervention. Regular dental check-ups allow for the monitoring of the crown's fit and integrity, ensuring that any adjustments or replacements can be made before serious problems arise.

When to replace your dental crown

Knowing when to replace your dental crowns is crucial for maintaining oral health. Signs that a crown may need replacement include visible wear or damage, pain or discomfort around the crowned tooth, and signs of decay at the edge of the crown. 

Additionally, changes in your bite or the appearance of the crown, such as discoloration or detachment, are indicators that the crown may need to be replaced. Regular dental examinations are essential, as your dentist can identify issues with your crowns before they become severe problems.

Frequently asked questions

How long do temporary crowns last?

Temporary crowns are designed to last for a short period, typically between a few weeks to a few months. They serve as a placeholder until the permanent crown is fabricated and ready to be placed. Temporary crowns are made from materials that are not intended for long-term use, so they are less durable than permanent crowns. It's crucial to follow your dentist's care instructions for temporary crowns to avoid any issues and ensure they last until your next dental appointment for the permanent crown placement.

How much do crowns in the UK cost?

The cost of dental crowns in the UK can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of crown material, the complexity of the procedure, and the dental practice's location. On average, the cost for a single crown can range from £300 to £1,000 or more. 

Do front teeth crowns last as long as opposed to back tooth crowns?

The longevity of a crown, whether on a front or back tooth, depends on various factors, including the material, the fit, and how well it's cared for. However, crowns on back teeth may be subjected to more wear and tear due to the forces exerted during chewing. Front teeth crowns, while not under the same biting force, may be more affected by aesthetic concerns or damage from habits like biting into hard foods. With proper care, both front and back tooth crowns can last many years, although back tooth crowns may need replacement sooner due to the higher functional demands.

Can a dental crown last a lifetime?

While it's possible for a dental crown to last a very long time, it's not common for a crown to last a lifetime. The average lifespan of a dental crown is between 5 to 15 years, but many factors can influence this, including the crown's material, the patient's oral hygiene habits, and their dietary and lifestyle choices. Some crowns can last 20 years or more with exceptional care, but it's realistic to expect that a crown may need to be replaced at some point due to wear, damage, or changes in the underlying tooth. Regular dental check-ups are vital to assess the condition of a crown and determine when a replacement might be necessary.